When we look at many of our congregations, we realize the world has gotten ahead of us in a number of ways.  There are many distractions, many influences taking one’s attention in directions away from the Word of God and undermining one’s personal discipleship and ministry.  So a congregation might have many youth at risk of getting into one kind of trouble or another, many inactive members, divisions in the body of Christ.  A congregation may have many  parents and grandparents at a loss as to how to raise their offspring in a good way considering the influences of media and peers on their young ones.   In the face of all this what can be done?  What is God asking us to do, to be about?

God has given us the gift of prayer.  This is not only a good but also a powerful  resource we have.  God our Father wants to hear our prayers as we come before Him in the name of Christ.  Prayer can transform lives by the Holy Spirit.

Today’s technology can work in helping to have this happen.  We at Adults Saving Kids (Parents Arise) are working to revise our Prayer Project Lifesaver program.  Originally this was used by a congregation so one adult was asked to pray for one particular child every day.  If the person praying ran out of ideas of what to pray, a list of 31 prayers was given them to use, one per day for a month.  This worked well and some congregations are still active in this.

What we now see is this Prayer Project Lifesaver can be expanded in several ways.  First, because of cell phones and texting, many people in a congregation can receive a text of one prayer each day.  If they don’t have a cell phone, they could receive an email.  If they do not have a cell phone or computer, they could be sent a month’s worth of prayer requests by snail mail or pick them up at church.  They can then personally select a quiet moment for praying.

Secondly, the recipients of the prayer request can state who they would designate as the people they would pray for.  This might include their children or their parents/ grandparents/grandchildren and others they would want to include.  So every person in a congregation capable of praying including children could take the prayer request, perhaps designate a time they would pray the prayer and then pray that prayer or another for the different people they took responsibility to pray for.  Each would pray for at least two people.  Also two people would pray for each member.

A task force or committee in the congregation would manage this making sure that every person in the congregation would be prayed for.  They would also make sure the daily prayer is getting to all the people in the congregation in some readable form.  There would be a theme or verse for the week with prayers for that week further supporting that theme.  This could be in the bulletin or on a bulletin board.  Confidence would come knowing one is praying Jesus’ name.

So this project would now be expanded so it includes a whole year with 365 different prayers sent out, one every day.  To have this become workable and alive, both sermons and instruction in prayer, educating and inspiring people to embrace the gift and power of prayer would be important.   God’s promises to listen and act would be stressed.

What is needed at this point is for leaders to pray for how this can be formulated & managed plus ideas for different prayers that could be used.   Further thinking on this needs to happen.  Some of the prayers would be praise prayers, thanksgiving prayers, confession prayers but most would be intercessory prayers.  The purpose of this would be to grow in Christ, to build up the body of Christ, to be praying so that people are strong in the Lord, safe in the Lord and shrewd in the Lord.  Prayed-for people would be more whole & fruitful, having the faith to love one another in unity, bear each other’s burdens and equip each other to be prepared through Christ for their family ministries & workplace ministries.

  1. M. Bounds said, “The poorest people in the world are those who has no one to pray for them.”

Pastor Al Erickson of Adults Saving Kids.  See www.parentsarise.org   Call 612-869-5450.  Email alvin.erickson@gmail.com, www.youtube.com/parentsarise  www.facebook.com/parentsarise

A Weekend Seminar EQUIPPING YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO STAY SAFE is going to be held at Faith Lutheran in Valley City. It will be starting on Friday night, May 8th at 7 PM to 9:30 PM and will continue on Saturday, May 9th from 9 AM to 5 PM. It will be conducted by Parents Arise, led by two pastors and a lay woman.

This will be for parents, grandparents, godparents, mentors, pastors, youth workers and educators. The purpose of the seminar is to give family leaders and those working with them the opportunity to gain the tools they will need to equip their offspring and those they mentor. These tools, in turn, will then enable these young people to be able to fend off evil and misleading intruders and intrusions into their lives so they can be safe and whole.

If a congregation sees that this kind of effort can advance the ministry they seek to provide, that they want their parents and grandparents to be prepared to do the job God is asking them to do, then they will want to consider this opportunity. This does not require hiring extra staff. Instead such seminars can be an inexpensive way of providing a needed supplemental ministry for a congregation. There will be future ones on new topics if desired.

The cost is $250 for a congregation which can send as many people as they want. This covers the cost all the sessions, plus two books, a film, lunch, snacks and coffee. Register by sending a $50 deposit check made out to Adults Saving Kids at 6600 Lyndale Ave. S., #708, Richfield, MN 55423. The rest may be paid at the weekend. Register by May 1 for this price. Late registration will have the weekend cost $300. If local support is found, that money will in turn lessen the congregation’s cost for the seminar. Have your church council discuss this opportunity. Call Pastor Al Erickson at 612-869-5450 if you have questions.

There are very good reasons for a congregation to decide to have their people attend.

  1. This seminar is a splendid opportunity for a congregation to be doing what the Scriptures are asking them to do. Parents and grandparents are to be bringing their offspring up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). This seminar helps family leaders to perform this duty.
  2. Designated leaders such as pastors and teachers are to be equipping people for their ministries.
    Ephesians 4:11,12. One of these ministries is the parenting calling as in number one above.
    Parents Arise with years of experience and having discovered many resources can aid local church leaders in fulfilling this vital congregational work.
  3. In our present culture the average American child is more influenced by media and peers than by their parents or grandparents. This puts them much more at risk to be misled or be entrapped or traumatized by those who seek to take advantage of them. Parents and grandparents need to see how important they are, what they can be about to help their offspring stay safe and keep their faith.
  4. Many youth get into unnecessary trouble and trauma because they did not know the tools they could use to avoid being taken down a hurtful life-changing road. This seminar begins to help the parents and grandparents see how to equip and arm their offspring with good tools and weapons to avoid such outcomes.
  5. This seminar offers congregations the possibility of supporting what Martin Luther taught when he said, “Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops and priests to their children, if they make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.”
  6. Helping parents and grandparents see the front line calling they have in the congregation and supporting them in fulfilling that calling will not only make the congregation more vibrant but will also empower this younger generation be more faithful and effective in their marriages and relating to their future children.
  7. Much misery, anguish and brokenness of both child and family members can be avoided if congregations realize they can do good work at the top of the cliff before young people go over the cliff and become broken down by molestation, chemicals, addictions, loss of faith, bullying, babies born out of wedlock, divorces, domestic violence and misleading messages. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglas

John 13:10, 11 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet, his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.”

John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you.

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, you sins are forgiven.” Or Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.

Who we are in Christ shown in Ephesians 1-3, Colossian 1, 2, Galatians 2, 3, How we live that out is described in Romans 12, Ephesians 4-6, Colossians 3, 4.

Acts 20:26-31 Savage wolves will attack from within and without. Ephesians 6:10-20 Put on the whole armor of God to defend yourself and to take the offensive.

How do cults attack identity?

Several Statistics to Consider

Main Influences on Youth:

  • In 1960: 1. Family 2. School 3. Peers and friends 4. Church
  • 1980: 1. Peers and friends 2. Family 3. Media 4. School
  • 2000: 1. Media 2. Peers and friends 3. Family 4. School

Statistics on what is going on that shows the importance of parents and grandparents at this time.

  • 1 out of 4 girls in Minnesota will be victim of molestation or rape before they are 18, 1 out of 6 boys
  • 41% of college students are hooking up with no commitment at all after the sexual encounter.
  • 40 million Americans ages 12 and older—or more than 1 of 7 people have addictions involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.
  • Almost half of the babies born in America are born out of wedlock. In the 1950’s they were only 5% of the babies born.
  • Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old. 15-17 year-olds having multiple hard-core exposures: 80%. 8-16 year-olds having viewed pornography online 90% (most while doing their homework).

It is our identity in Christ which will be forgiven.

Paul sees Christians in different places for who they are in Christ as in I Cor. 1 or Philippians 1. He knows what makes for that identity as in Galatians 3.

Attacks will come: Ephesians 6:10-20, Acts 20:

Baptism Romans 6:1-14, 23, Colossians 2, I Peter 3.

Acts 16:33 Baptism of jailer’s family.

It is our identity in Christ which will be attacked as we see with the apostle Peter. Is he willing by God’s grace to stand in his identity in Christ. Peter came to see this clearly as in I Peter 1:3-5. Verses 18-21, also 22, 23 plus 2:4-10.

Who I am: Galatians 2:19-21, Ephesians 2 Who we are Philippians 1:21, Colossians 1;12-14, 2:6,7-15.
Attacks will come from many directions

We could also say Romans 3-8

Colossians 2:16-23, Ephesians 4:14-16, 17-23 rest of 4 and first part of 5 plus 6:10-20, I Peter 1, 2

Identity in Christ, Neil Anderson

Romans 10:5-15.

Jesus tells us those who deny him, he will deny before the Father.

He also says that those who use his name in vain can be forgiven.

Cults seek to change identity.

Linda Kracht talks about Butinski’s. Those who would lead us away from Christ.

Look at what she is saying there. The many ways and people who find ways to get their misleading messages into our lives, steering us away from who we really are in Christ.

Ted Kennedy taking the mass every morning. Christ in me, in every cell of my body.

How does peer pressure attack identity?

How does media attack identity?

How do predators attack identity?

How do molesters, pimping-people attack identity?

How do Internet pornographers attack?

Much of this comes in the form of what we want to hear, what our itching ears are ready to respond to?

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, gets all that but loses the one thing that is truly a treasure, his life before God? The gift of salvation.

When we watch media presentations, we almost always are getting the message that we don’t live out of who we are in Christ but rather out of our own smarts, our own will power, out of our own common sense and maybe some help from other people. We can be easily by those who operate out of themselves and succeed so who needs the person who said, “Without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5c. Jesus is speaking of bearing fruit that comes out of being the branch grafted into him the vine.

  • Deuteronomy 6:4-19 Parents pass on the faith, warn about becoming worshippers of no-gods (idols).
  • Psalm 78:1-8 Parents and grandparents pass on what God has done, but people resist, disobey and bring on the wrath of God.
  • Proverbs, chapters 1-7 Fathers instructing and giving wisdom to their children, who are enticed by evil doers to become foolish and suffer dire consequences.
  • Many other proverbs including Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Whole book of Proverbs to be studied so child is wise and not foolish.
  • Malachi 4:6 where fathers’ hearts are turned to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that God will not strike the land with a curse.
  • Matthew 18:1-14 The value of a child in the kingdom of God, warnings about not taking advantage of that child but focus on saving that child. This can be applied to parents having child be shrewd. 10:16.
  • Matthew 19:13, 14 Jesus rebukes those who would send little children away so he receives and blesses them.
  • Luke 11 Here we find Jesus declaring all the ways evil can be prayed against, how it can infect leaders and how even birth parents are not as important. All followers must listen and keep embracing Christ.
  • Luke 15:11-31 The father’s heart for his lost son and words to his indignant older son.
  • Ephesians 4:11, 12 pointing to ministry later described in 6:1-4 between children and parents and then how a Christian must be armed for evil attacks coming. 6:10-20.
  • Colossians 3:20, 21 Relationship between parents and children, word to fathers.
  • II Timothy 1:1-7 Paul being spiritual father to Timothy, reminding him of faith of his grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice and where this has given Timothy such a good heritage in the faith.
  • II Timothy 3 not only points out how evil people can become and take advantage of others but also how one might be nurtured in the faith by parents and grandparents with the inspired Scriptures.

Parents in the Bible to Consider: Jacob passed on special calling to grandfather, Abraham, to Joseph but also blindly sent him out to be with livid brothers. See Genesis 12-50. Jephthah and his daughter in Judges 11. Hannah and Elkanah dedicate Samuel, I Samuel 1. Solid parenting relationship between Mordecai and Esther, Book of Esther. King David fails to see plot against daughter, Tamar. II Samuel 13. Jesus is a father figure to his disciples and calls them his children, showing us the ways of a father. The apostle Paul is a spiritual father to many congregations and again helps us see what a true father does.

1. Growing up inside a dysfunctional home, lack of parenting, separation of parents.

2. Parents who do not help them understand, grasp or live the Christian life.

3. Not having the tools to avoid being taken advantage of, molested or raped.

4. Becoming sexually active before being old enough to fully understand what the consequences of that will be.

5. Dealing with the long term consequences of a pregnancy out of wedlock.

6. Becoming harmed and/or addicted to chemicals like alcohol or drugs.

7. Dealing with loneliness or other emotional needs by turning to Internet pornography.

8. Being bullied, picked on or being the bully, enjoying control of others.

9. Social pressure that leads to chemical use, sexual promiscuity or criminal behavior.

10. Getting into a dating relationship or marriage where one will be abused or be abusive.

11. Reaching the point of despair.

12. Not seeing the connection between their identity in Christ and what is going on in their hearts, their minds and their behavior.

13. Being left unprotected and/or foolhardy because no one is praying for them.

14. Keeping life at a surface level, easily swayed, life without a deeper inner compass.

15. Not having the support they need when making critical decisions or in crucial situations.

16. Becoming addicted—to food, sex, gambling, chemicals, the internet or other media.

17. Having friends who lead them astray, who are not grounded in the faith themselves.

18. Internet predators who prey on young people.

19. Preachers, teachers, youth workers, coaches and mentors who take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

20. Losing their faith by misleading messages and living in a world full of distractions.

A casual reading of the Scriptures might have one easily overlook both the ministry of parents and grandparents. Further that same casual reading might have one not notice what makes these ministries so challenging and vital. It is not until one begins to see how many writers of Scriptures are pointing one to the same phenomenon that what is being said becomes more obvious and transparent.

To understand what this is we must first understand that Jesus himself was starting from scratch with his own disciples. His coming and his kingdom would be contended against all along the way. As a baby his life was threatened and barely saved from the slaughter of the innocent infant boys living in and near Bethlehem. From the time of his own forty days spent in the wilderness followed by the three ways Satan tempted him, Jesus surely saw that his ministry was attacked by evil. He and John the Baptist would be opposed by those who felt threatened by their ministries. Jesus was called Beelzebub. He was plotted against by scribes and Pharisees, arrested by the chief priests and finally crucified. John the Baptist was arrested and killed by King Herod.

Jesus realized the danger believers faced, for he faced those same dangers himself. He did not mince words to his disciples. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16). To get a fuller picture of how Jesus saw what his ministers were up against, read all of Matthew 10 and 11. As the prophets of old were murdered so that same violence will occur in his day and down through the ages of the new covenant. (See Matthew 23:29-39 and John 15:18-25.)

So while Jesus was bringing the wonderful news of the Gospel, he was also declaring the sobering reality that those who receive it will find themselves in jeopardy. We only have to move ahead a short time to find both James and Stephen being killed, Paul being persecuted, Peter. Now we might be tempted to think that this peril experienced by the first Christian leaders was short lived or that it was only a reality for the early apostles.

But now we get to the second phase of how the Good News was spread, appropriated and the body of Christ was built up. We now have apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers equipping the saint for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We find this in Ephesians 4:11-13. And what ministries are pointed to? In Ephesians 5 we have the ministries between husband and wife. In Ephesians 6:1-4 we have the ministries between child and parent and then in verses 5-9 between slaves and masters.

If we accept the these ministries are real and ways of passing on and fleshing out the Good News, then we must ask ourselves, “Are these ministries also faced with evil and threatened by menacing attacks? When we ask it that way, we begin to notice Ephesians 4:14 which declares, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” So here we have new kinds of invasions of evil affecting those seeking to minister as to their offspring.

It does not end there. Surely there is much in the rest of Ephesians 4 and 5 to consider in this regard. Once we reach Ephesians 6:10-20 we are confronted by the full warfare every minister is battling. There will be the evil day, the sometime subtle and sometimes frontal attacks of the principalities and every Christian will need to put on the full armor of God to survive these attacks. That armor making the Christian strong is all laid out so that the breaking down of the believer’s faith does not occur.

So as Jesus and Paul faced evil and were confronted by wolves, we now begin to see that those who are the family ministers are likewise dealing with evil. What is striking is how those passages which are overtly lifting up the ministries of parents also are exposing the evil threats those ministries live with.

Here are passages to consider in this regard:

Deuteronomy 6:4-19 Parents pass on the faith, warn about becoming worshippers of no-gods (idols).

Psalm 78 Parents and grandparents pass on what God has done, but people resist, disobey and bring on the wrath of God.

Proverbs 1-7 Fathers instructing and giving wisdom to their children, who are enticed by evil doers to become foolish and suffer dire consequences.

Malachi 4:6 where fathers’ hearts are turned to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that God will not strike the land with a curse.

Luke 11 Here we find Jesus declaring all the ways evil can be prayed against, how it can infect leaders and how even birth parents are not as important. All followers must listen and keep embracing Christ.

II Timothy 3 not only points out how evil people can become and take advantage of others but also how one might be nurtured in the faith by parents and grandparents with the inspired Scriptures.

Can Christians actually be wise, prudent and shrewd in a world where much foolishness is promoted? Jesus told his disciples, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Are these just words Jesus dropped on his disciples telling them to be wise? Do we have any evidence that he actually taught his disciples how to be wise? Can we find in the Gospels any proof that Jesus was showing his disciples what being wise would look like as one lived one’s daily life and lived out one’s ministry?

Jesus realized naive fishermen had a long way to go to become the shrewd and wise apostles they would need to be in facing the scheming and conniving unbelief and opposition they would be dealing with in the world. Knowing this here is what we find him doing and saying in the four gospels and Acts that trained his disciples in being wise. This includes some Biblical verses to indicate some places one can find this.

1. He chose twelve men after praying to his Father. The number was important because this was a number he could be close to and actually help each one step by step become the wise and effective apostle they were being asked to be. (Mark 3:3-18).

2. He chose Matthew who, as a tax collector, knew weasels and was probably a weasel himself. He knew conniving and shrewdness and would listen to what Jesus said and notice how he did things from the point of view of one who is watchful for deceit, mischief and scheming unbelief and how Jesus countered it. Matthew could help Jesus teach the rest and also future generations. For example, the Gospel of Matthew points out King Herod’s seeking to trick the wise men (2:7,8) and the intentional conniving of the chief priests. (27:62-66, 28:11-15).

3. The Beatitudes totally contradict the world’s ideas of what wisdom, success & the American dream look like in God’s eyes. (See Matthew 5:1-12, Luke 6:20-26).

4. He kept bringing home to the disciples what an eternal treasure of forgiveness, life, and true riches they had in him versus any earthly profit or success they might decide to seek after or be lured into which in the end they would lose anyway. (For example, Matthew 13:44-50).

5. He prayed for his disciples, that they would put first things first, be united in their relationship to him and his Father, that they would be protected from evil. (John 17:11,12, 14-18: 18:8).

6. He warned them concerning self deceit, liars and the father of lies and the damage and bondage deceitful people could bring about. (John 8:42-47).

7. He trained them in prayer and in being watchful for the leaven of unbelievers like the Pharisees, saying “Watch and pray.” (Luke 11:1-13, Mark 14:38). See the Lord’s Prayer which states, “Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil.”

8. He showed them again and again the opposition they would face and how deep this would go even among themselves and their own families. The wolves would always be there to attack the sheep, so being innocent as doves would not do it but there would be a need to be as wise, prudent, shrewd & seeing through scheming. (Matthew 7:15-23, 10:16, 34-39).

9. He warned them they would have enemies and so steered them away from being caught off guard, following a path of convenience and comfort to being alert, ready for setbacks, persevering through trials. (Luke 14:25-35, John 15:18-16:4a).

10. He lifted up shrewdness as with the shrewd manager in Luke 16:1-9. “Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way-but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, & not complacently just get by on good behavior.” (The Message) vv. 8b,9).

11. He demonstrated to them how he saw through the tricks of those plotting against him and how he responded to such people—either by silence, by exposing their lies, by lifting up truth, by counteracting their scheming, by not being fearful of such people. (See Luke 20, also Mark 15:2-5, Luke 23:8,9)

12. He showed them how there were ways of dealing with conflict, of not being controlled by evil plotters, if people had at stake being faithful to their heavenly Father, to the Gospel, to truth, to service, to love. (Matthew 5:38-48).

13. He empowered them to see that the Gospel ministry was ultimately not about personal success but about remembering who one is serving and how faithfulness meant being faithful to Christ’s commands and their relationship to Him. (Luke 16:10-13).

14. He protected them from being arrested when he was arrested. Wisdom takes grounded thoughtfulness and caring, not forgetfulness, neglect and apathy. (John 18:7-9).

15. He sent the Holy Spirit to bring to their minds what he had said and what the Scriptures taught. If they were open to the Holy Spirit and to the truth of what they had heard, they would always have a response to the foolishness, distortions, unbelief and mischief they would be encountering. (John 16:4b-15).

16. To be aware of Christ’s love that people may love one another and allow love to cast out fear, even the fear of losing an opportunity presented by a smooth talker. (John 15:1-17, Luke 12:1-7).

17. To lay one’s burdens down upon Christ so that one is not vulnerable by depending upon oneself for energy, for contentment, for satisfaction. To allow God to work and provide rather than being anxious. Seeking first the Kingdom. (Matthew 6:25-33, 11:28-30).

18. Foolishness begins by having one’s treasures be wrongly placed and therefore following the limited & in the end unsatisfactory agenda or idols. (Matt:6:19-24, Luke 12:13-21, 18:18-25).

19. Being wise does not mean being passive or simply a doormat but rather having one’s faith be active in love carrying out one’s ministry in the world with discipline and vision, following fully what Christ has asked one to do. Wisdom is found and learned in fulfilling what one has been assigned to be about. (John 16:12-15, Acts 1:8).

20. Wisdom resides in the Bible:When Jesus is tempted, he thwarted Satan by using Scripture & also he fulfilled his mission by fulfilling Scripture. (Matt: 4:1-11; 26:53,54 show this).

1. Molesters, people committing incest
2. Bullies
3. Seducers, liars
4. Some film makers
5. Defrauders
6. Internet pornographers, sellers of adult videos
7. Drug dealers
8. Some music lyricists
9. Spousal abusers—domestic batterers
10. Strip club managers, pimping people, customers
11. Some advertisers
12. People luring kids into gambling addictions
13. People luring kids to unsupervised parties, to sexting
14. Some video game creators
15. Rapists, date rapists
16. Child abusers—physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual
17. Internet predators
18. Some TV writers and producers
19. Cult leaders, Christian leaders who mislead
20. Some classmates

A pastor in a pastors’ gathering in Devils Lake, North Dakota asked an all important question.  What I heard him say maybe is a little different than what he meant but here is my interpretation.  He heard as our solution to the problem of kids getting into trouble as two parents in the home working to prevent this from happening.  He then asked a good question, “What about grace?”

Now understandably the response to that question can go in many directions.  There is the free grace of God that gifts us with salvation which is not any of our own doing.  There is the grace to know that anything we do to solve the harm our kids could get into may not be enough, yet God is still there for us.  There is the grace of God we can proclaim to the brokenness and sinfulness in ourselves or others.

In the specific case of Parents Arise, let me share what I have come to see as the particular arena where the gift of grace really comes into play.  First of all, Parents Arise emerges out of many years of standing with the misery and brokenness of families full of anguish.

Let me give you just one example of what we are talking about here.  A parent called Adults Saving Kids (our parent organization) looking for help.  In this family there were two parents who had three children.  The third child, a beautiful 17 year old daughter, met up with a man who wormed his way into her life and got her prostituting herself.  Her parents, brother and older sister watched with horror as this daughter’s life began to disintegrate right before their eyes.  Whatever they did to help her out of this trap did not work.  Finally, they were able to get her into a recovery kind of place in northern Idaho costing thousands of dollars.  However, she ran away from there, confused and broken down as she was.  They drove thousands of miles, found her and brought her back home.  Within a few days she left and was back on the streets with new guys controlling her life.  She got pregnant, had a baby, came home and started to raise the baby.  A decent guy got interested in her and started to go with her.  But guess what?  Within a short time, she took off leaving the guy behind and the baby for her parents to raise.  Now imagine the dilemma and heartache this was for the parents.  Suddenly they were not only dealing with an out of control young adult whom they loved but now their lives were taken up with raising a baby.  Their daughter sometimes came home for a momentary stay but would take off again to be with men who were using her and dominating her life.  Then she got pregnant again.  What does this now mean for the parents?  The saga goes on.

Now as a pastor in a position to be there for them, I have worked with this family over the phone, through emails and even been to their home in California.  I have done this for about eight years.  For all the heartache, the prayers, the sharing, the multitude of seemingly hopeless agony , the lamenting cries of the mother, I have stood beside this family giving them myself and the Word of God to sustain them.  Now all of this I have done without getting paid but with the backing of prayers from our prayer team.   Where does all this end?  At this moment, I don’t really know.  What I do know is that God cares deeply and God has given me the grace and the parents the grace to journey down this dark road together.

So I ask myself the question.  Where did grace come in when I did not prepare my own child for what she would face the way I could have?  Where was grace when in my arrogance and denial, I did not have any appetite for the weapons God had made available to me to use to equip my child?  How could grace come into play when I said to myself, “My kids will not get into trouble”?

Martin Luther wrote in the Preface to the Large Catechism, “He (God) knows our danger and need.  He knows the constant and furious attacks and assaults of the devil.  So he wishes to warn, equip, and protect us against them with good “armor” against their “flaming darts,” and with a good antidote against their evil infection and poison.  O what mad, senseless fools we are!  We must ever live and dwell in the midst of such mighty enemies as the devils, and yet we despise our weapons and armor, too lazy to give them a thought!”  As a parent I was lazy and asleep and had no one to wake me up and put the armor before my face.  That would have been grace for me.  But who knows, I could have shrugged that off.  But that would have put me in the category of “To whom much has been given much is required.”  I would no longer have been off the hook for my lack of awareness of subtle evil and God’s provision of armor.

The Bible is full of people who wake people up and face them with not only reality but also with the Good News in what God in Christ has done.  They tell us what God is ready to supply in the way of answered prayer, wisdom and weapons for the battle being waged.  In the long run these are people of grace, are they not?  So, in this light, Parents Arise is asking pastors to be people of grace, asking parents and grandparents to rise up and ready their offspring at the top of the cliff so they have the equipment, the resources, the support, the armor, the promises of Christ God has provided to fend off the manipulative attackers they face and will face.  Is it necessary that they have to go over the cliff and be shattered at the bottom before grace can occur?  To prepare our young people while they are still impressionable and under our authority is a ministry of faithful grace.  And Christ is there to powerfully and gracefully guide and fortify such a ministry.  When one’s offspring find themselves recipients of such parenting and grandparenting, they may never appreciate how they have been gifted but they may very well have different lives than the tragedies that could have been.   If they have any awareness at all of what misery they have been saved from, could they not rightfully say, “There but for the grace of God go I?”

Truth Exposes and Transforms Lies

One’s Identity in Christ

Lie: I will live today, die and be eaten by worms, and have no existence therefore I am worthless.

Truth: Christ has chosen me, forgiven me, joined me to his death and resurrection in baptism, therefore making me into a child of God forever, giving my life eternal value before God.

Lie: Because I do not see God or feel Christian today, I might as well try to look good or feel good by risking my future with risky behavior. It doesn’t matter anyway, my life is meaningless.

Truth: I have Christ within me even though the eyes of my heart often are blind to who I really am. Therefore I focus on and claim the promises given me and I respond faithfully to the calling God has given me to do and be and I seek to be wise in the Holy Spirit about choices I make which might undermine that.

Being a Sheep: Vulnerability Sets Us Up

Lie: Since I am confident nothing bad can happen to me, I will continue to depend upon my own strength and wisdom to get me through life.

Truth: Since we all have our blind sides, to be dependent upon my own self-awareness may well make me an easy target for those who seek to use any perceptions I have or don’t realize I have, against me. I therefore seek to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove, using prayer, Christian support and boundaries which work for me in dealing with possible treachery.

Lie: Since I am a pretty good person and have survived so far, I think my own perceptions must be reliable.

Truth: Many unnoticed situations set us up for being taken advantage of such as unaddressed trauma in our lives, feeling unloved, misinformation and being inexperienced or naive.

Facing the Wolves: Recruitment Tactics Shift Everything

Lie: I have an ability to tell who is telling me the truth and who is leading me on.

Truth: Those who recruit young people have usually honed their skills of entrapment to a level far beyond what the young person can even comprehend so that the young person once entrapped actually thinks they have made a personal choice.

Lie: I have a personal formula which has worked to keep me from getting into trouble and will in the future.

Truth: It is the job of the recruiter to hone in on the blind side of that formula, push the right buttons and disarm any strategy a person might think they have to defend themselves.

Eaten by the Wolves: Consequences Beyond Imagination

Lie: Only stupid or sinful people get themselves into a fix that totally disrupts and devastates their lives.

Truth: Normal, average, so-called “good” people get caught in the traps recruiters set and find themselves having all or some of these following situations to deal with: Used mercilessly many times a day, alienation from family and friends, become chemically addicted, they themselves recruit others and ruin their lives, set up children for failure, get post traumatic stress syndrome, have mental problems, have learned helplessness, lose chance for education, commit crimes, use sex as a drug, use others, unable to love, divorce.

Leadership is Eminently Possible: Standing for the Young People

Lie: Since prostitution is the world’s oldest profession & pornography is common, there is nothing which can be done to transform its impact, therefore this is one subject we can dismiss.

Truth: Because this is a long neglected injustice and oppression and because we now understand the deceit and dynamics of what is going on, those who step out courageously can give powerful and effective leadership that makes a major difference.

Lie: People make bad choices and I have better ways to spend my time than to try to do something about people who have made their own bed. Let them sleep in it.

Truth: To confront what is really going on is to open up a whole new arena of myth shattering truth, to see with fresh eyes the dangers our youth are in today, to get excited about what it means to be in ministry and to be in a public leadership position the church has seldom had in many years.

Why Are Fathers Important in a Child’s Life?

What is the Calling of a Christian Father?

Dads make sure their children are provided for.

Dads commit themselves to be their children’s protectors.

Dads listen to God and they pray for their children.

Dads teach their children skills, stories and teach them how to pray.

Dads prepare their children for adult life.

Dads lovingly value the lives of their children and also the life of their Mom.

Dads are present, they are there to be counted on.

Dads warn their children of dangers.

Dads equip their children with armor to fend off evil connivers.

Dads arm their children with truth and wisdom.

Dads model how to do life.

Dads model how the Christian life is to be lived.

Dads share their own experiences, what they have learned from failures and from others.

Dads challenge their children when needed.

Dads ask for forgiveness when that is called for.

Dads forgive.

Dads allow their children to make some mistakes and learn from them.

Dads point out things. They notice what their children might not notice.

Dads realize they have only so much time with their kids so they seek to make the most of every opportunity to build up their young ones.

Dads share their faith in God and their hope with their children.

Most of us are assuming that parents are doing a good job and many parents are. But we also recognize the world has changed. There are two factors that make parenting especially challenging today. The first factor is that many more competitors have emerged to assume the parent’s role. Some of these competitors really don’t care what happens to our kids. They can bully them, misinform them, molest them, tantalize them, cause them to become addicted, exploit them, use them, break them down, cause them to lose their faith, damage their lives for decades. All these competitors want is our kids’ allegiance, their money, their bodies, their minds, their hearts. They will manipulate, and control them one way or another. Parents may find out too late that these competitors’ ambushes actually worked.

The second factor is that parents now live in a fast paced world. Do they really have the time or give the time to effectively parent their child the way that is needed? Martin Luther declared, “Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops and priests to their children, if they make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.” Who can really make the difference for parents and stand with them? Ephesians 4:11-12 gives us the answer. It is the church, its pastors and teachers who are to equip the people (In this case parents and grandparents) for their vital home ministries. It is within the family that growing children will become prepared and ready to meet the smooth-talking connivers who want to take them down. Family adults like parents and grandparents are the frontline ministers of every congregation. Fathers are pointed out in Ephesians 6:4 as the key people to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The battle will rage and the day will come when all of Ephesians 6:10-20 will be needed.

This presentation believes God is ready and willing to empower congregations and families to do what is needed to keep their young people safe. It will take work, real preparation. Parents Arise not only has ferreted out the many weapons and skills needed but through books and trainings is ready to assist pastors, congregations, parents and grandparents to truly be and do what God’s high calling is asking us to fulfill. Some of the skills needed are pointed to in cartoon form on YouTube.

Pastor Al Erickson Bio

Al Erickson grew up in Glendive, Montana where he needed few street smarts. He attended Concordia College and Luther Seminary, he interned in Steven Point, Wisconsin. He was a missionary and seminary principal in Papua New Guinea over a 12 year period. Afterwards, he served Trinity Lutheran in Mott, ND for seven years. From there he volunteered on the streets of Hollywood, California and was an interim pastor at an African American congregation in south central Los Angeles. He started an inner city Grassroots Ministry in Minneapolis and lived there for fourteen years. He also founded Adults Saving Kids serving as its director for fourteen years. He and his wife, Ina, from Carlos, Minnesota have six children and fifteen grandchildren. A family tragedy helped him see how easily vulnerable kids can be drawn into different traps that will change the course of their lives. He has since sought to assist the church as to what can be done in Christ with weapons God has provided and powerful tools originating in God that certain people have uncovered.

From Martin Luther’s Preface to the Large Catechism:

If this were not enough to admonish us to read the Catechism daily, there is God’s command. That alone should be incentive enough. Deuteronomy 6:7,8 solemnly enjoins that we should always meditate upon his precepts whether sitting, walking, standing, lying down, or rising, and keep them before our eyes and in our hands as a constant token and sign. Certainly God did not require and command this so solemnly without reason. He knows our danger and need. He knows the constant and furious attacks and assaults of the devil. So he wishes to warn, equip, and protect us against them with good “armor” against their “flaming darts,” and with a good antidote against their evil infection and poison. O what mad, senseless fools we are! We must ever live and dwell in the midst of such mighty enemies as the devils, and yet we despise our weapons and armor, too lazy to give them a thought!

A Simple Way to Pray

Martin Luther fully recognized what we are addressing. When he wrote A Simple Way to Pray for Master Peter, the Barber, he was fervent in identifying the meaning of the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Listen to how Martin Luther saw the power of evil in the world.

“Then say: O dear Lord, God and Father, thou knowest that the world, when it cannot frustrate thy name and wholly root out thy kingdom, employs tricks and frauds, carries on its many intrigues and strange plots, takes counsel, whispers, bolsters and fortifies itself, threatens and blusters, and proceeds with all evil will against thy name, thy Word, thy kingdom, and thy children to destroy them.

Therefore, dear Lord, God and Father, convert and restrain. Convert those who should still acknowledge thy good will, that they with us and we with them may be obedient to thy will, ready in this obedience to suffer willingly, patiently, and gladly all evil, cross, and tribulation, learning therein to know, and test, and experience thy good, gracious, and perfect will. But do thou restrain those who will not cease their raging, raving, hating, threatening, and wicked intent to do harm, and set to naught and shame their counsels, evil plots, and stratagems, that these may return upon their own heads, as Psalm 7 says. Amen.”

The Estate of Marriage, volume 45 of Luther’s Works

Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops and priests to their children, if they make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.

See Smalcald articles where Luther talks about the “mutual conversation and consolation” of the saints as a way the Gospel extends “God’s guidance and help” into people’s lives.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A sword and shield victorious; He breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod And wins salvation glorious The old satanic foe has sworn to work us woe! With craft and dreadful might He arms himself to fight On earth he has no equal.

No strength of our can match his might! We would be lost, rejected. But now a champion comes to fight, Whom God himself elected. You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is he! Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God’s only Son, adored. He holds the field victorious.

Though hordes of devils fill the land All threat’ning to devour us, We tremble not, unmoved we stand; They cannot overpow’r us. Let this world’s tyrant rage; In battle we’ll engage! His might is doomed to fail; God’s judgment must prevail! One little word subdues him.

God’s Word forever shall abide, No thanks to foes, who fear it; For God himself fights by our side With weapons of the Spirit. Were they to take our house, Goods, honor, child, or spouse, Though life be wrenched away. They cannot win the day. The Kingdom’s ours forever! (highlighted print is mine)

Quotes by Others

Matthew 10:16 Jesus said, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise (prudent, shrewd, discerning) as serpents and innocent as doves.”

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children”. –Nelson Mandela

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” –Frederick Douglas

“The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live.” –Bonhoeffer, After Ten Years, Dec. 1942

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first hour sharpening the ax.” –Abraham Lincoln

In the first of these two indispensable volumes on safeguarding children today, Pastor Al Erickson (along with Patricia Malloy) notes that in 1960 the four most important influences on children were family, school, friends and peers, and church. Having entered the world of the teenager in the early sixties, I can personally attest to this list; although in my case, my close friends and peers were in my congregation which magnified the influence of the church on my formative years. By 1980 the situation had changed. The four greatest influences in order were friends and peers, family, media, and school. Church was out of the top four, family and school demoted, peer pressure increased, and media on the rise. lt was about this time that Hollywood realized that its meal ticket depended on the tastes of teenagers and so put enormous amounts of energy and money to create the summer adventure blockbuster (think “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). By 2000 media took top spot, friends and peers second, family and school at the rear. But media was no longer simply TV, popular music, and movies; it now included the computer with the internet: a wild-west world of anything goes in which children could often navigate better than their parents. With bedroom door closed, boys and girls could enter forbidden worlds: pornography, chat rooms, and the like where predators, who have always lurked in the shadows, acquired new weapons to tempt and ensnare vulnerable youth to drugs, sexual slavery, and other horrors. To make things worse divorce and out-of-wedlock births have increased many fold across the decades since the watershed 19603. Who will safeguard our children if not the family?

Pastor Erickson knows the force of this question personally. He had a child ensnared. He tells stories in the book of parents blindsided and their children stolen from them in schemes and scams. For example there is “Jenny,” who interviews in a Twin Cities restaurant for what she thinks is a job as a disc jockey. Jenny is told she is on the short list, but needs to undergo a second interview in Chicago. Her father, Mike, is unsure about letting his daughter go to Chicago but a professional business card, provided by the interviewer, and a phone call to the number on the card, answered by a pleasant sounding female “receptionist”, reassures him. It is all an elaborate, diabolical setup. When Jenny arrives in Chicago, 400 miles from Mom and Dad, she finds herself at the mercy of two ruthless men.

Erickson and Malloy speak with authority. A former missionary to Papua, New Guinea, Erickson is the founder of two ministries: Grassroots Ministry serving the vulnerable in inner-city Minneapolis and Adults Saving Kids. Patricia Malloy has been a public school teacher and a full-time trainer for Tentmakers Youth Ministry. They consider the battle to protect our children a matter of spiritual warfare, calling upon the power of Jesus Christ as Lord and the wisdom of the Bible as a sure guide. Erickson offers a concrete and practical analysis of the situations that parents face. He and Malloy describe the dangers and pitfalls of present day parenting (and grand parenting) with an unblinking eye. In this task he is inspired by the Gospel of Matthew. Why Matthew‘? “Matthew knows conniving” (l, 68). The Gospel tells stories of treachery (e.g., Herod seeking to kill the newborn babe). it takes Jesus to heart when he tells the disciples that they will be “sheep among wolves.” Matthew witnesses to Jesus’ command that we be “wise as serpents” (Mt. 10.16) and assures us that we can depend upon him in time of need, knowing that he has authority and that for him, unlike us, the ‘yoke is easy and the burden light’ (Mt. l 1.30). We must live in the world realistically. We need to face the power of the devil. We are to trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Erickson is a superb, down-to-earth expositor of Scripture; a rare talent in the mainline church today. Not only does he provide fresh insights into the reading of Matthew, showing the sober realism of the Gospel’s understanding of society and world. He also uplifts and guides the vocation of Christian parenting in his reading the Epistle to the Ephesians (l, l19-123) which opens this letter in a way that l have not encountered before. And he offers this powerful witness: “The enemy we face today is not only the scheming treacherous person out there somewhere,” who seeks to rob us of our children, “but the principalities and powers that have that person dangling on a string like a puppet. Will power, street smarts, and insight will not defeat such an adversary. The power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph. l.l9-23) is what Paul speaks of again in Eph. 6.10: ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.”’ Pastor Erickson draws this lesson: “So it starts with each of us. Every Christian finds himself or herself in a struggle to stay grounded in that strength and salvation of God. Christian adults must witness to their own spiritual battles in such a way that youth may locate the source of their strength” (1, 123).

The ten challenges of the first volume and the ten actions of the second are specific, pointed and all make sense. You will have to read the books to find out what they are; which I encourage you to do. For those who care about our youth today, these books are must reading.

–Walter Sundberg
Professor of Church History
Luther Seminary

  1. Many adults are saying “I’m glad I’m not a kid growing up today” but have they ever really come to terms with the actual dangers young people are facing, the ones these books are addressing?
  2. Are parents and grandparents realizing the enemies their offspring are encountering are very often hidden, anonymous, sophisticated, crafty, technologically astute and not at all thinking of the importance of keeping kids safe and whole? Have they the insights this book is offering them?
  3. Have parents and grandparents fully taken on the role of Protector so they are defending their offspring, not only against physical dangers but emotional, sexual, intellectual and spiritual dangers as well? Are they willing to look at how challenging this Protector calling is when one sees it as described in these books?
  4. Many parents and grandparents find out only too late what ways the lives of their young people can be manipulated, redirected, traumatized, scarred and even devastated? Have they considered what agony this will cause in their own lives for the next decades? Are they willing to see what solutions these books offer?
  5. Media is in most cases now the main influence on kids’ lives. Is it any wonder our culture is so different now? Who will reverse this trend but parents and other concerned adults who regard their ministry in the home and with the family as primary and are willing to learn and grow in having that ministry be effective and transformative? This book provides a good start in that learning process.
  6. As parents it is easy to feel stumped and overmatched. These books open new doors so parents can see and use some of the key tools God has provided to help equip and protect their youth. Our Lord has not left us with an empty toolbox.
  7. A further challenge for parents and grandparents is finding ways for their young to have the internal wisdom, discernment, faith and courage to avoid or fend off potentially entrapping or treacherous involvements. Here are some answers.
  8. Grandparents and other concerned adults may wonder where they fit into the picture of protecting and preparing their special youth for the world that is out there. As they grow in awareness from this book, they will have new perspectives and resources to work from and be blessed by our caring Lord in the process.
  9. So we ask, “What does the Bible say about all this?” These books will show what the Bible shares about treachery in the world, what parents are to be about and what the Scriptures provide for those seeking the welfare of children. The arsenal from God is here causing the reader to shout with gusto, “Arise”.

Have we forgotten how important we are? Have we failed to grasp the vital ministry we have been given and allowed it to slip away unnoticed? Are we awake? Parenting and grandparenting are at the core of American life itself. Why do so few see the high importance of this role? Maybe they are content to “let sleeping dogs lie” but that is a dangerous attitude! In sports a trash talker has to be careful. He can prod the opposing team too much and get them fired up. Do we parents and grandparents need someone to trash us and get our ire going? Unfortunately there are lots of people making money off our kids. The last thing these moneymakers want to do is provoke us guardians of our kids into thinking we are not going to let them pick our kids off. Their motto is “Let the parents and grandparents lollygag, loiter. Don’t get them thinking they can have some influence. Don’t annoy them.”

Let us speak loud and clear. This is where it is, folks. Our parenting and our grandparenting, our godparenting and our mentoring represent the very essence of what this land of ours is about. We are the backbone, the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual source of all that is happening. What we are bringing or not bringing to our youth is the pivotal fulcrum of all that our country is or isn’t.

God expects much from us. We have been given much. “To whom much has been given, much is required,” said Jesus. (Luke 12:48b) When we are faithful receivers, lovers and worshippers of God in Jesus Christ, we become our children’s chief protectors and teachers. We have first place in their lives for God has privileged us to become front line guides and instructors. Ours is a singular and unique place in the lives of our children. We are the only ones to raise them, to pass on the faith to them, to instill in them what life is all about.

The question is: How much have we realized and acted upon the primary calling we have in our own homes? Why does research show that from 1960 to 2000 the most impactful influence on the lives of American children has drastically changed? In 1960 family life was the key influence, then peers and friends, then school and fourthly church. By 2000 this had shifted, and now media was the main influence, then peers and friends, then family and then school. And how much further have we drifted since then?

Yes, we believe many families are still operating in ways that show home life is the most vital part of a child’s life. We need to keep it that way. But let us admit—it is very easy to give the life of our child over to the TV, the cell phone, and the Internet. Without trying we can find ourselves on the sidelines watching our children grow up with beliefs, values, attitudes and actions that are not what we know in our hearts will be good for them.

There is plenty of room for us to wake up and embrace fully what God is asking of us. This website and the books it offers are meant to assist concerned adults to be the ministers God is calling all of us to be. If you are one of those who believes in what is being said here, we heartily recommend you obtain the books and expose yourself to the support and resources available to you. It is time for Parents and Grandparents to Arise!!

Parents Arise Books

Pastor Al Erickson with Patricia Malloy of Minneapolis have collaborated to write two eye-opening and challenging books aimed toward parents, grandparents, and adults who are concerned about our children and youth in today’s culture of TV, media, technology, seduction, and greed. The authors present the challenges adults need to be concerned about to safeguard our young people and what actions can be taken at home, in church, in school, in the community. They reveal the often hidden treachery that awaits our children in a world that is becoming increasingly dangerous.

All over America vulnerable kids are being bullied, picked on, traumatized, misled, addicted, molested, deeply wounded and used. Heartsick families in desperation ask, what can be done?

The authors have committed themselves to helping parents and grandparents discover what ways God wants to prepare them. Book II is a tool chest filled with ways to safeguard precious children; these tools bring us a sense of being better equipped as Protectors. We are not left without methods and clarity. God has abundantly supplied us with the Holy Spirit, promises, warnings, and profound wisdom from His Word. There are effective resources that will be valuable to those who care.

The challenge for parents today is staggering. Most traps to hook youth are subtle, appealing, sophisticated and use powerful technology. Media has gained increasing influence in many homes. Conniving schemers are finding ways into the lives of young people while good parenting has little support. These books are for all who believe God has given them a frontline ministry to pass on their Christian faith and to equip young people for a safe and healthy journey through life.

Originator of the Adult Saving Kids program, Al Erickson will soon begin training sessions for those who are committed to seek ways to keep our young people safe. Patricia Malloy is writing the teaching manuals for this endeavor.

“What Erickson and Malloy have explained in Parents Arise! Grandparents Arise! is not only imperative for the moral, social and emotional well-being of our nation, it is equally imperative for our economic and political well-being.”

—Al Quie, former Governor of Minnesota